By Marissa Sweatland
NORTH WEBSTER — During the Monday, June 12, Tippecanoe & Chapman Lakes Regional Sewer District board meeting, the board discussed, passed and vetoed many motions. All members were in attendance, except for Neil Myers, who attended and voted via Zoom. The board discussed late fees, liens and exception requests.
During the public input, the board heard an impassioned plea from Darlene Whaley.
Whaley challenged the board’s decision to make her pay two bills, one sewage bill and one debt service bill.
Whaley, who resides on lot 16, bought the adjacent lot, lot 12, last September. The plan is to tear down the house that is on lot 16 and build their “dream” house. Whaley planned to put a garage on lot 12. Because the lots were separate and not purchased until after the start of the project, the grinder pumps were already planned and approved.
Whaley had reached out March 6 about her building plans.
She insisted it was never disclosed in her purchase agreement that buying the second lot would generate a second bill.
Whaley questioned the timeline of Sewer Rate Ordinance Section 7. Board attorney Andrew Boxberger mentioned how the Ordinance was discussed in public meetings for five or six months before it was officially passed. The ordinance was also posted in the paper and online and was signed the first week of Oct. 2022.
“I feel like I’m inheriting something unintentional,” Whaley pleaded.
Whaley brought up the resale potential of her property, asking, “Who is going to buy a house that comes with two sewage bills?”
Whaley’s husband, Brad, explained their neighbor’s situation, in which they bought their adjacent lot and built a farm. Their neighbors only pay one bill.
“So you’re willing to treat us different?” Whaley asked.
The board explained the difference between the two cases is the neighbors owned both lots, prior to the start of the sewage project. The Whaleys bought their second property after the start of the project.
Whaley’s appeal was ultimately denied. Kim Hathaway, Chuck Simpson and Neil Myers abstained from the vote. Jeff Thornburgh, Edward Ormsby, Bob Weaver and Brian Davison voted in opposition.
The Whaleys were not the only people who were denied an exception request.
Jeff Tynan has a Type 1 grinder serving his property. His mobile home is being removed from the property. Tynan asked the committee if the grinder station proposed for his property could be given to his neighbor, Tony Croy. Croy’s property is not within the district boundary. The engineering committee has denied Tynan’s request.
Laura Heckman requested a grinder on her property owner utility sketch form. The request was not noticed and a grinder was not included for the property. Heckman does not want to pay any additional costs since she had requested a grinder station during the design phase.
There is a Type 1 grinder on a shared property line that could be exchanged for a Type 2 grinder. If an additional Type 1 grinder was installed on Heckman’s property, an additional electrical rise would need to be installed, as the riser for the area is already at maximum capacity. The engineering committee agreed to exchange the Type 1 to a Type 2 for $10,255 to be paid for by the project fund.
The board was also presented the cases of Lynn Miller and Scott Moran. Miller’s property is fully within the district’s boundaries and is planned to be served with a grinder station. He was told by the county health department that his property was not included in the sewer project and a new septic system needed to be installed. Miller had a $7,000 septic system installed and does not want to get rid of it.
Moran’s property is also fully in the district’s boundaries. It was vacant during the design phase, so no grinder was planned. Recently, a mobile home was brought to the property and it appears a new septic system was installed.
Bob Weaver and Bill Baxton will determine if there is anything stipulating they connect to the sewer system. If not, they can file for an exemption.
Penalties And Liens
In December 2022, the board voted to waive penalty fees. However, the board voted to instate late penalties on sewer bills. The penalties will be stated on the July bill. Penalties will be applied to customers with dues over 30 days late. Customers with unpaid fees and dues will be sent up to three letters before a lien is placed on their property. The penalty will be 10% of their monthly bill.
If a lien is placed, customers will pay an additional $75 fee to get the lien lifted.
The board also discussed plans to hire district employees. The committee is looking into hiring administrators, operations and maintenance positions. It is debating hiring employees or contractors.
The number of unsigned easements have gone down this month. Tippecanoe has 38 unsigned, down from 49 last month. Chapman has 16 unsigned, down from 23.
Bob Weaver was voted onto the engineering committee.
The committee discussed change orders applying to contract A and B.
Contract A totals $48,898.47 and asked for an extra work day. Contract B totals $68,736.19 and asked for 10 extra work days.
The board approved both change orders.
Payouts for the change orders were approved for the work that has been done so far.
Funding for East Webster wass approved and can be attained at once. The board needs to create an invoice. The county approved $40,000 to cover legal and financial advisor costs.
Before the board turned the floor over to the public, they briefly discussed their experiences with Boardable, a computer program. The board has not made a decision on it.
The next Tippy Chapman sewer board meeting will be held 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 10, at the North Webster Community Center, 301 N Main St.